Sinken and Sanken and Sunk – at 40
You all know my love for Julie Gardner. As wonderful as she seems on the internet, I can assure you, it pales in comparison by how truly lovely she is in person. I am incredibly proud to call her my friend and am thrilled she’s sharing a moment from her life at 40.
Sinking and Sanken and Sunk
“I want to run a marathon.”
I said this to my husband Bill over a couple of margaritas in the bar of a local Mexican food restaurant. It was September 21st, 2008; and I was turning 40 in less than two weeks.
Bill smiled at me — I’m sure it was a gesture of admiration and not a smirk of disbelief — as I laid out the bare bones of my idea.
“So my birthday’s coming,” I said, although he hardly needed reminding. His 40th wasn’t until the following April and he’d been acting pretty smug. As if it were some grand achievement to be born five months after I’d already entered this way-too competitive world.
“Anyway,” I continued, “I’d hoped to hit this decade in the best shape of my life. But clearly that ship has sailed.”
Or — as my daughter had recently said in response to my coy admission that perhaps the boat of my youth had left the dock — “Mommy, that ship has sanken!”
“Still,” I said, “I want to do something BIG this year. And as a gift to myself, I figured why not run a marathon?”
Perhaps because I had bad knees; or because I’d taken a leave of absence from teaching to write a novel not to run; or because Carlos was delivering another round of margaritas (with salt) and sodium’s not conducive to training.
But Bill didn’t offer any of these arguments. He just kept smiling and nodding.
(I don’t want to give anyone the impression that he’s brainless. In fact, he’s smarter than I am in almost everything besides poetry explication. However, he’d learned that trying to float a word into the hurricane of our one-sided conversations was wasted energy.)
“But here’s the thing,” I whispered, in case Carlos was eavesdropping. “I want it to be a secret.”
I then explained — in greater detail than any man should be expected to tolerate while enjoying chips and salsa — that I wanted to spend the next five months preparing to run 26.2 miles while writing about these travails in what would hopefully be a publishable account of my midlife marathon.
I wasn’t going to tell anyone. About the race or the book. Because, you know. Everyone loves surprises!
(And also I could quit without anyone knowing I’d sanken.)
I admitted to an obstacle or two, then suggested how I’d hurdle every one. In fact, I didn’t stop blathering until Bill stopped nodding. Then, as my husband drained his glass, I prepared to address his reasons against such lunacy; hindrances I’d not yet considered.
He looked me in the eye, waiting to see if I was actually done talking. Which I was.
That’s when he said, “Go for it.” To me, to Carlos, to everyone.
Oh crap! I thought. Is it too soon to quit?
But I didn’t. I couldn’t. I can’t.
Not while my children are watching, deciding what it means to have a goal. Not while my husband’s cheering me on as I chase down every last one of my dreams.
So I write and run; I sink and swim. I fail more often than I succeed. But in the effort is inherent success. And to me turning 40 brought with it an incentive; a motivation to make the most of the rest of my life.
Sure, I’d love to sign a book contract or run another marathon. I could update my Bucket List of wishes I hope to someday make true. But the freedom to try is by far the best gift.
And it’s one I’ve already received.